I started the Birkett-Smith Animal Sanctuary six years ago on my smallholding in Dorset and formalised as a registered Charity two years after that in 2013. We are now the largest Sanctuary and Rehabilitation centre of it's kind in the UK. Here at The Sanctuary we provide forever homes for domestic, farm and wildlife animals. Most have behavioural issues, are aggressive, old, disabled, human scared etc. So we basically take in the animals that stand little or no chance of gaining homes let alone the security of a forever home and our experience now encompasses neurological disability and dysfunction, deafness, blindness and partial paralysis. Our 200 animals include dogs, cats, pigs, sheep, horses, all farm birds, emus and even a seagull! We are also one of the the very few UK sanctuaries that will take aggressive and fear aggressive dogs as we have a no kill policy full stop. We rehabilitate these animals as much as we can over time to enable them to achieve a happy life here at the sanctuary. I'm not classed as a rescue but I am a rescuer and that is the other side of our sanctuary.
At the end of 2014 I noticed that there was a huge gap in the system, dogs needed somewhere to recover. The poundies and the failed rescue dogs needed another option for another chance and in most cases a last chance. They needed a chance at living, a chance at rehab in order to be able to go into a home, some for the first time, some to start over and this is where the idea for SOS Havens was born. I had the space, I had the ability and the passion and I was already rehabilitating our sanctuary dogs so I extended my reach and opened the sanctuary to UK rescues. The SOS Havens give them a place of safety and a place where whatever their reactions they are accepted. A place where whatever their issues they are given time, time to link in and to enable them to face the world again but a new world under the protection of their rescues with lifetime RBU after rehab.
There are few dogs that can't be re-homed in time, there are some that could be but are safer due to their strength or issues to not go back into a domestic environment simply because thier safety can't be guaranteed but there are many more that can safely move into foster after rehab and continue their journey to their forever sofa. Unfortunately most of these dogs are beyond the remit of normal rescues and sadly many of them are put to sleep before they get the chance to mend. I work with these damaged dogs, along side my own sanctuary dogs to install faith in them and glue them all back together with love and care until they are whole again and to show the world that it is possible to undo what others have done to them. They leave here with new skills and thier rescues gain the knowledge needed to help them move onto the next step in thier journey. The SOS Havens have become a last chance for many, the final hope.
Due to the nature of the animals we have, their care can be intensive and very costly and it all takes time and volunteers and without our Birkett - Smith Family this would not be possible. So please support us in any way you can as we continue to grow and save lives and join us with our fundraising and projects as slowly one by one we take in animals to safety.
Joy Keys xx
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